Nationals acquire first baseman Josh Bell in trade with Pirates

Todd Dybas
·1 min read

Nationals acquire first baseman Josh Bell in trade with Pirates originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Nationals are acquiring first baseman Josh Bell in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Washington. The team announced the deal Thursday afternoon.

Minor-league pitchers Wil Crowe and Eddy Yean are going to Pittsburgh for Bell.

Bell, 27, had a breakout year in 2019 when he hit 37 home runs for Pittsburgh, leading to a 142 OPS-plus. It was by far Bell’s best season since entering the league in 2016 as a 23-year-old for the Pirates after being selected in the second round in 2011.

Bell strikes out often and is a subpar defender at first base. He will, however, add some power to a Nationals lineup desperate for a boost. Mike Rizzo said last week the Nationals were in search of a “middle-of-the-order bat” and it could come at first base or corner outfield. Bell is more of a fifth or sixth hitter than a cleanup or No. 3 hitter. Which means the Nationals are going to look for more power, presumably in the corner outfield market and possibly at third base.

This is a low-cost option. Bell is arbitration-eligible this year and next, then becomes a free agent in 2023. His projected salary for next season is $6 million.

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Crowe departs as one of the prospects in a middling minor-league group. Recent draft picks Cade Cavalli, Seth Romero and Jackson Rutledge made Crowe expendable. Crowe made his major-league debut in 2020, went on to start three games and finished with a 11.88 ERA.

Yean is a 19-year-old right-hander who pitched in Rookie ball in 2019.